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County Clerk’s Office Awarded Funding through New York State Local Government Records Management Improvement Grant Program

Published: 9/17/2019

For More Information Contact:

Catherine Durland (845) 486-2133

cdurland@dutchessny.gov

Poughkeepsie, New York:  Dutchess County Clerk Bradford H. Kendall and County Historian William P. Tatum III, Ph.D., announce that the New York State Archives, a division of the NYS Education Department (SED), has awarded $11,830 to the county through the Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund (LGRMIF) grant program. The funds will be devoted to continuing the digital conversion of the county’s Ancient  Documents Collection; court records of the 18th and 19th century. 

The Dutchess County Clerk’s Office has received funding through the program for 7 consecutive years totaling $207,647 and providing the means for digitization of 132,000 images.

Ancient Document from 1785 includes a doodle of a courthouse on the back-side of the page
Ancient Document #28,000 from 1785 includes a doodle of a courthouse on the back-side of the page. In 1785, the second county courthouse still stood at Market and Main—it would burn down in 1786, prompting a building campaign to erect the third county courthouse, which hosted NY’s ratification convention on the US constitution.  To date, no images of the first (1720) or second (1740~) courthouses exist.


According to County Clerk Kendall, "These funds have been fundamental in allowing us to execute our most innovative and impactful project.  The Ancient Documents Search allows researchers from around the corner to around the globe access to our county’s archival holdings.  We appreciate New York State Archives recognizing the importance of digitally encapsulating our most cherished manuscripts and the added benefits of enhanced offerings and accessibility through technology.” 

County Historian Tatum added, “The Ancient Documents Collection is essential for researchers of the Hudson Valley and New York State, as well as for Dutchess County. We have one of the more complete and older groupings of court records, covering the period from 1721-1889. These manuscripts reveal new perspectives into the lived experience of the rich, poor, and everyone in between during that period.”

The County Clerk’s Office also assisted Dutchess Community College (DCC) with their successful application for funds for document conversion. The DCC project will convert students’ records dating from 1957-2000 from their current microfiche format to digital files. In so doing, DCC staff will have improved access to these vital records and insure their preservation for generations to come. The County Clerk’s Office will continue to advise and provide consultation to DCC as their project moves forward.

Clerk Jackie Harbison re-houses the Ancient Documents after being numbered and indexed.
Clerk Jackie Harbison re-houses the Ancient Documents after being numbered and indexed.

The Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund (LGRMIF) is a highly competitive state-wide grant program. Over 185 municipal and county governments submitted applications for the 2019/2020 cycle, requesting over 10 million dollars. Project categories included managing inactive records, disaster management planning, file management, management of historical records, and converting paper and microform records to digital images.

The Ancient Document Search consists of digital images of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century legal documents. These records comprise the oldest surviving documents from the Dutchess County Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions, documenting the daily life in Dutchess County as seen through both civil and criminal cases that came before the judges and justices of the peace.  The Ancient Document Search is available online, freely accessible and keyword searchable by visiting www.dutchessny.gov/ancientdocuments